Foundation comes to the aid of blood bank

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By LULU MARK
Blood transfusion at Port Moresby General Hospital has been made more efficient to save lives – thanks to Sir Brian Bell Foundation.
The renovated blood bank opened yesterday. Called Sir Brian Bell Centre for Transfusion Medicine, it has a collection site for getting blood from donors and a testing site to ensure the blood is safe.
Hospital chief executive Dr Umesh Gupta said the foundation financially supported the hospital with K3.3 million over three years, including technical manpower support.
This is built on the legacy of Sir Brian Bell, who served as chairman of the hospital for 30 years.
Laboratory machines and equipment were upgraded from manual and semi-automated to fully automated.
Gupta said this was a culmination of a journey of almost three years, where the hospital and its partners worked to address blood shortage issues in the hospital.
“In 2014, there were stories of people dying, and doctors cancelling patients’ appointments because there was no blood,” he said.
Gupta said a corporate blood drive was sponsored by the ANZ bank from 2014 to 2016 and the foundation sponsored the youth blood drive.
“These drives created awareness in the communities on healthy lifestyles and the importance of donating blood,” he said.
“Blood cannot be manufactured, it has to come from another human being to save lives. People were also educated that when donating blood, health checks could be made. The programmes were successful because there was no blood shortage.”
Foundation chief executive Bronwyn Wright said the transfusion centre was built on the success of the blood-drive initiative. “When the Sir Brian Bell Foundation officially started two years ago, we did so by introducing a blood donation programme aimed at the youth of Port Moresby,” she said.
“The youth blood drive saw the foundation and the blood bank team visit many high schools, colleges and universities to educate and inspire the new wave of blood donors in our community.”
The foundation’s plans included the redevelopment of the blood bank facility, a major equipment upgrade and continuous education opportunities for key members of the transfusion team.
Wright said the transfusion centre was the first of its kind in the country and other hospitals could be inspired by what had been done.
“It is a nice place to visit and donate blood and get tested,” she said.

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